6:00pm Thursday 6th February 2014
By SNJ Reporter
A FAMILY thought they were going to die when an eight-tonne trailer carrying silage tipped over and crushed their vehicle, a court heard.
Grandmother Angela Driver was driving towards Nympsfield in Tinkley Lane with partner David Keveren and granddaughter Annalise Bell-Howdon, seven, when the accident happened on Thursday, August 1.
Stroud Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday how Alan Sealey’s New Holland tractor mounted a wall as he tried to avoid the car, causing the trailer to tip over onto the vehicle.
The family feared they had been left ‘waiting there to die’, the court heard.
Sealey, aged 43, of Bristol Road, Cam, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.
He was fined £350, must pay £30 in costs plus a £35 victim surcharge and was disqualified from driving for four months.
The court heard that Annalise, from Northumberland, was staying with Mrs Driver and Mr Keveren at their Forest Green home at the time. Mrs Driver was driving towards Nympsfield when she had to stop at a narrow point in the road because of the approaching tractor, the court heard.
Prosecutor Graham Dono said Sealey was unable to stop the tractor and, fearing it would crash into the car, he steered it towards the wall.
“The tractor mounted the wall but the trailer did not and tipped over onto the car,” he said.
“He fully expected to stop and at the last moment swerved.”
Witnesses estimated that Sealey had been travelling at 20mph before the collision.
Luckily, Mrs Driver and her passengers escaped with cuts and bruises but have suffered psychological problems since the collision.
Mr Dono read out a victim impact statement in which Mrs Driver said: “The accident has been the worst event of our lives.
“We do not want to drive at all at the moment. We will never be able to drive that road again. My granddaughter won’t get into a car or bus or some buildings.
“He did not come to help us, we were literally waiting there to die. We thought it would crush us from above before we could get out.”
Sealey, who represented himself, said he had ‘possibly’ been driving ‘at speed’.
He explained how he applied the brakes but due to the extra weight of the trailer, the vehicle failed to slow down as he expected.
He steered the tractor into the wall to avoid the car, he said.
“There’s no way I would purposely tried to hurt them at all,” he said.
“I evaded the situation which could have been a lot worse. I had to make a split decision, the lesser of two evils.
“I apologise for all the problems and stress they have been through.”
The court heard that Sealey had a clean licence and that he had been driving tractors since he was 16.
He told the court that after the crash he went to check to see if the family were okay.
Chairman of the bench John Turner, said: “This was a particularly horrendous incident that could have been fatal. It is fortunate it wasn’t.”
Mr Turner told Sealey that he was being disqualified for four months rather than having points on his licence because that would send out the ‘wrong message’ due to the seriousness of the offence.
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Driver said she would like to thank PC Simon Meredith, one of the officers who investigated the case, and motorist Rodney Cripps, who smashed the rear window of the Hyundai, allowing the family to escape.
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